Marco Armiliato, conductor
BR Klassik, 2017
After her Mozart album released in 2013, Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka presents her new recording Amor Fatale. Rossini Arias, centred on strong heroines from Gioacchino Rossini’s operas – women who have chosen to sacrifice themselves and their affections for the sake of their own families and countries. The arias of this selection are taken from operas Rossini composed in different stages of his career: among them, there are roles he wrote for Isabella Colbran, the great Spanish soprano who was to become his first wife, as Desdemona (Otello), Armida, Elena (La donna del lago) and Semiramide, and other roles belonging to the final years of his career, included Mathilde from Guillaume Tell, the last opera he wrote before he withdrew into silence.
Marina Rebeka began her international career after the success as Anna at the Rossini Opera Festival in 2008 and her constant presence in this repertoire make inevitable that sooner or later she would record a Rossini album. Finally, we have that album and Amor Fatale is a gem, at least for what concerns the singer.
Rebeka has a silvery and smooth voice, remarkable for its beauty and purity. Her sound technique allows her to sing without efforts all the difficult passages written by Rossini and to show off her bravura in incredible cadenzas as those of Tanti affetti in La donna del lago. Her psychological characterization is not deep or detailed, but she makes up for what could have been a flaw with a sort of candid purity that suits well a slandered innocent as Desdemona (Assisa a’ piè d’un salice), or a desperate woman who prays for the safety of her country as Anna (Giusto ciel, in tal periglio).
This vocal purity is effective in Semiramide too (Bel raggio lusinghier), where Rebeka’s impeccable coloratura assumes a completely unexpected meaning: her Semiramide does not seem a woman who is deeply in love, but definitely she is sure that love will arrive soon and waits for it with confidence. Another remarkable character is Mathilde (Guillaume Tell) and her Sombre forêt is evocative and charming.
On the contrary, Elena and other characters (as Armida) are a little less effective, but this is not at all the soprano’s fault, as I will explain shortly. In the case of Elena, for example, the heroine sings a beautiful rondo during a crucial moment for her and for the denouement of the entire opera, as she is finally reunited with her father and her lover, bur Rebeka’s musical embellishments, though well performed, suggest merely relief, not happiness.
The problem is, in this case as in others, Marco Armiliato’s conduction. Despite I usually like this conductor and even this time I think he conducts with accuracy and precision, I found a certain apathy that make Rossini’s lavish music dull. There are arias where this is less manifest, as Sombre forêt, but it is nonetheless perceivable, and when it comes to Semiramide, Armida and of course La donna del lago, the soporific effect is fatal. In this regard, it is all Rebeka’s merit if there is always something interesting to hear and her grace, musicianship and artistry are absolutely out of question.
Amor Fatale is definitely Marina Rebeka’s album as it is her and only her that proposes something new in the arias with her pure voice and prodigious technique. From this point of view, this album is so valuable that not even the conduction can deprive the listener of the pleasure to hear Rossini’s beautiful music performed so well by an excellent singer.